BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuPericardial fluid Gram stainGram stain of pericardial fluidPericardial fluid Gram stain is a method of staining a sample of fluid taken from the pericardium. This is the sac surrounding the heart to diagnose a bacterial infection. The Gram stain method is one of the most commonly used techniques to rapidly identify the cause of bacterial infections.Gram stain methodA Gram stain is a test used to identify bacteria. It is one of the most common ways to quickly diagnose bacterial infection in the body.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article How the Test is Performed A sample of fluid will be taken from the pericardium. This is done through a procedure called pericardiocentesis. Before this is done, you may have a heart monitor to check for heart problems. Patches called electrodes are put on the chest, similar to during an electrocardiogram (ECG). You will have a chest x-ray or ultrasound before the test.PericardiocentesisPericardiocentesis is a procedure that uses a needle to remove fluid from the pericardial sac. This is the tissue that surrounds the heart.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article ECGAn electrocardiogram (ECG) is a test that records the electrical activity of the heart.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Chest x-rayA chest x-ray is an x-ray of the chest, lungs, heart, large arteries, ribs, and diaphragm.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article UltrasoundUltrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to make images of organs and structures inside the body.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article The skin of the chest is cleaned with antibacterial soap. The doctor then inserts a small needle into the chest between the ribs and into the pericardium. A small amount of fluid is taken out.You may have an ECG and chest x-ray after the procedure. Sometimes, the pericardial fluid is taken during open heart surgery.A drop of the pericardial fluid is spread in a very thin layer on a microscope slide. This is called a smear. A series of special stains are applied to the sample. This is called a Gram stain. A laboratory specialist looks at the stained slide under the microscope, checking for the presence of bacteria.The color, size, and shape of the cells help identify the bacteria, if present. How to Prepare for the Test You will be asked not to eat or drink anything for several hours before the test. A chest x-ray or ultrasound may be done before the test to identify the area of fluid collection. How the Test will Feel You will feel pressure and some pain as the needle is inserted into the chest and when the fluid is removed. Your health care provider will likely give you pain medicine so that the procedure is not too uncomfortable. Why the Test is Performed Your provider may order this test if you have signs of a heart infection (myocarditis) or a pericardial effusion (fluid buildup of the pericardium) with an unknown cause.MyocarditisMyocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle. The condition is called pediatric myocarditis when it occurs in children.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Pericardial effusionPericarditis is a condition in which the sac-like covering around the heart (pericardium) becomes inflamed.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Normal Results A normal result means no bacteria are seen in the stained fluid sample. What Abnormal Results Mean If bacteria are present, you may have an infection of the pericardium or heart. Blood tests and bacterial culture can help identify the specific organism causing the infection. Risks Complications are rare but may include:Heart or lung puncture Infection Open ReferencesReferencesChernecky CC, Berger BJ. Pericardiocentesis - diagnostic. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:864-866.LeWinter MM, Imazio M. Pericardial diseases. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 83.AllVideoImagesTogPericardial fluid stain - illustration Pericardial fluid that is obtained from the heart is stained with a violet stain known as gram stain. The sample is then examined under the microscope for the presence of bacteria. The color, number, and morphologic appearance of the cells help make it possible to identify the organism. The test is performed when an infection of the heart is suspected, or when a pericardial effusion is present.Pericardial fluid stainillustrationPericardial fluid stain - illustration Pericardial fluid that is obtained from the heart is stained with a violet stain known as gram stain. The sample is then examined under the microscope for the presence of bacteria. The color, number, and morphologic appearance of the cells help make it possible to identify the organism. The test is performed when an infection of the heart is suspected, or when a pericardial effusion is present.Pericardial fluid stainillustration Tests for Pericardial fluid Gram stain Pericardial fluid Gram stainGram stainPericardial fluid cultureRelated Information Pericarditis(Condition) Review Date: 12/24/2020 Reviewed By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. 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